In my yoga class last week, I spoke about mandalas, specifically the sand mandala. Meaning “circle” in Sanskrit (another translation is “a world in harmony”, which I really like), mandalas are highly detailed and symbolic forms of ancient art. They represent layers of the universal divinity.
In Tibetan Buddhism, monks meticulously craft these intricate mandalas with colored sand. The process can take days or even weeks and is seen as a powerful aid in meditation and healing. Mandalas are crafted with intense compassion and positive intentions.
But unlike the mandalas which are painted or made three dimensional, sand mandalas are destroyed upon completion.
Crafted with compassion and then destroyed upon completion, symbolizing the impermanence of all phenomena.
When I first witnessed a sand mandala being destroyed (a word that has such a negative connotation…so maybe I’ll say deconstructed or dismantled instead?) it was quite heartbreaking.
That’s not supposed to happen!
It took so much time and fastidious effort!
At least take a few pictures!
And I defaulted to these thoughts because the act is so unfamiliar in a Western driven world where the outcome is everything. And not just achieving an outcome, but marinating in it.
Most of us identify and are defined by our list of achievements, instead of the skills we cultivate in the journey to them.
At our superficial, socially constructed core we need to experience and own the outcome. But it doesn’t stop there; by reinforcing the notion that results are everything we sprint past the process (I wrote about this theme of missing the process a month or so ago).
We minimize it. And by doing so we minimize ourselves & life becomes more about execution rather than adventuring.
Beyond the symbolic notion of dismantling impermanence, some sand mandalas are also swept into bodies of water as a blessing; an offering of compassion to the world.
That is also quite powerful.
If all our tangible manifestations or results were swept away today, how would that make us feel?
How would it make us feel to offer up our results to others? How would it make us feel to offer up to the world?
I remember speaking with a friend of mine about his thoughts on being a father one day. He said, “All I can do is teach my child everything I possibly can, and then hope that one day they will teach me more than I could ever imagine.”
So, as Rumi suggested, I will continue not to gather
but to burn
and heat and help
and then melt.